taming the beast...
What happens when you receive an HIV positive diagnosis?
No one jumps for joy when you get a "life sentence", at least not 20 years ago. Nowadays they say that HIV is a "treatable illness", one which you can "have good quality of life" with. Great! They forget one small detail... the emotional toll associated with the stigma that intrinsically comes with the virus.
When you receive a positive diagnosis, you find before you a large wall full of fears, before the unknown; ultimately, facing fear, facing many emotions and all the misinformation that’s around us.
The truth is that you’re standing before this wall and, at some point, you have to decide what you’re going to do with it. I warn you that you won’t be able to go through it because you’re not a ghost, you are real. Options? You could go around it... ok! If you decide to do that, I advise you to stop. If you go around it, that wall will continue to be there, you won’t have done anything to resolve the situation; once again in your life, you will walk away without a resolution.
That wall is there to make you stop and decide what your life will be like going forward. If you already went around it, I encourage you to try a small exercise. Let’s assume that the wall is the virus and you look at it: Is it pretty? Do you like it? Do you love it? If you answered no, you have a problem that you need to address if you want to feel free. Can you hate a part of yourself? Yes! It can happen, but it’s not healthy; it makes you easy prey, it destroys your self-esteem, it makes you weak. If you go around the wall, if you drag this out, you give that wall (the virus) power.
So, the only way to "tame the beast" is by understanding that it’s a part of you, that it lives with and depends on you. It’s empowering yourself to understand that you are more than a diagnosis. You are not HIV, you are a person. You are not someone that’s "infected," you are a person with an HIV positive diagnosis. You don’t live with HIV, it lives with you. It is in your home (body) and it has to understand that you control your own life, it is not in control. Only then will we be able to eradicate the stigma and be respected for what we are: part of this great show we call life.
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